They’re rich in essential nutrients and minerals your body needs to function, such as fiber, protein and heart-healthy omega-3s. They’re even a bit high-tech: They expand while digesting, sating appetite and preventing overeating. By making this small addition to your diet, you can say hello to a trimmer waistline, smoother-looking skin, and overall better health.
Just because you weren’t chowing down on them before, doesn’t mean it won’t be easy to slip them into your diet daily. Start spooning these seeds into your existing meals, and you’ll begin to reap the benefits ASAP — minimal effort required.
Bake Them In
Baking chia seeds into your goods is one of the most seamless ways to fit them into your diet. Whether you’re whipping up homemade breads or treating yourself to whole-grain pancakes, adding chia to these items will boost their nutrition value. Maria-Paula Carrillo, M.S., R.D.N., L.D. recommends mixing them straight into the uncooked batter, then baking as the recipe instructs. Because chia seeds pack a whopping 11 grams of fiber in two tablespoons, you’ll ensure you’re getting your fiber in for the day and battling the bloat. “This added fiber can also make you feel more satisfied which may lead you to consume less calories overall during the day,” adds Carrillo.
Supplement Your Cereal
You’ve already ditched the sugar-bomb varieties you once shoveled into your mouth as a kid, but you can take your breakfast bowl one step further by enhancing it with chia. Whether you’re an overnight oats or Cheerios kind of person, add a spoonful or two for a long-lasting energy boost. “Chia seeds contain calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium – minerals essential for blood and bone health,” says Carrillo.
Shake Over Salad
Research has shown that pairing veggies with healthy fats can encourage greater nutrient absorption. While olive oil and avocados are tried-and-true salad bar favorites, chia seeds deserve the limelight too. “They’re rich in essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which are powerful nutrients when talking about heart health,” says Carrillo. The omegas also work to reduce inflammation in the body, and even enhance cognitive functioning! Bolstering your diet with healthy fats also helps to boost satiety, reducing hunger pangs between meals.
Power Up Your Smoothie
When crafted carefully, a morning shake can do your body a lot of good. Fruit and veggies stack your smoothies with vitamins and minerals, while nut butters or protein powders will boost the fat and protein content. By adding chia into the mix, you stoke your shake’s hydrating abilities. Chia seeds are what is called a hydrophilic food: Essentially, they soak up and retain a lot of water — 10 times their size, to be exact. Keeping your body hydrated helps curb cravings and increases satiety. Furthermore, getting enough water will help boost the appearance of your skin and keep your body and mind alert.
Pair With Probiotics
Switch up your yogurt ritual, and stir in chia seeds for added texture and health benefits. Yogurt is filled with gut-friendly bacteria that support immune-system function and healthy digestion. Adding chia to the mix will balance things out with fiber and healthy fats. Stick with plain Greek yogurt if you can, or opt for one of these healthier flavored varieties to keep sugar content down and protein levels high. Eating this in the mid-morning or afternoon can help squash hunger and fuel your body ‘til your next meal.
Toss With Pasta
Although pasta may not always fit seamlessly into your diet plan, chances are you still enjoy a plate every now and then. By tossing it with vegetables and other healthy ingredients like chia seeds, you can transform a dish traditionally lacking in nutrients. Regular pasta is a simple carbohydrate which will digest quickly and leave you feeling hungry. By supplementing your noodles with protein and healthy fats, you can slow digestion and stay full for longer. “Chia seeds provide a good amount of protein in a small serving — about 3 grams in one tablespoon. This is an easy way to add some extra protein to a variety of dishes, snacks or meals,” says Carrillo.
For more ideas on how to use this superstar superfood, check out our list of the 50 Best Chia Seed Recipes for Weight Loss!